Violence continues to escalate in the latest confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians, as both sides blame each other for the crisis. Israeli and Palestinian representatives repeated their accusations Sunday, shortly after the new United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution to conduct an annual review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel.
Israel's vice-premier Shimon Peres told CNN's Late Edition his government believes Hamas, which heads the Palestinian authority, is waging what he described as "an undeclared war of terror against Israel."
"They've become responsible for the firing of rockets on Israeli settlements, out of Gaza, and endangering the lives of innocent people," said Shimon Peres. "And secondly, they took hostage an Israeli soldier, while penetrating our sovereignty and our land, despite of the fact that we have left Gaza completely. Now we feel like we have to defend ourselves."
Hamas gunmen who took part in a raid on an Israeli army base last week are believed to have kidnapped the 19-year-old Israeli soldier.
Peres said releasing the soldier would lead to an end to Israeli retaliation, which has included repeated air strikes against Palestinian targets.
"If they release the soldier, the operation can be over in a moment's time," he said. "It's up to them. But they cannot keep the soldier as a hostage and then complain. By the way, when it comes to electricity, we checked beforehand. If the hospitals have generators to supply necessary electricity to people who are in hospital, we wouldn't bomb otherwise."
The Israeli air strikes are creating a growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories, which moderate Palestinian legislator Saeb Erakat says could actually hurt efforts to win the soldier's freedom.
"When you begin bombarding the electricity and the water and the bridges and the institutions, and abducting parliamentarians and ministers, what I'm afraid this is doing is undermining efforts for the release of the soldier," said Saeb Erakat.
Erakat added that he is concerned that the violence will derail efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
"Now, things are slipping outside our fingers like sand," he said. "I'm really very worried tonight. I have a lot to be concerned about. If the Israelis, I expect, expand and escalate the situation in Gaza by going in with tanks and planes and F-16s and so on, I'm afraid that this will not only widen the circle of violence and counter-violence and extremism in this part of the world between us and the Israelis, but this will transmit to the whole region."
Shimon Peres and Saeb Erakat appeared on CNN Sunday, two days after the U.N. Human Rights Council approved a resolution to review Israel's alleged human rights abuses and report on the situation at the U.N. group's next regular session in September.
Israel is not a member of the council, but protested the vote as "imbalanced and intentionally one-sided." The United States, which is also not a council member, expressed disappointment.
Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Japan voted against the resolution.